New Delhi, 19 Sept 2023
The Modi government would like us to believe that it is so committed to the cause of women's reservation that it called a special Parliament session to pass the bill. But the pretension of urgency gets exposed when the implementation of the bill is made contingent on the completion of census and consequent delimitation. What stops us from implementing it immediately?
The Modi government is the only government in the history of India which has failed to conduct the decadal census. In spite of Covid, seriously Covid-affected countries like China, UK and US have conducted census operations while India under Modi has failed. Women's reservation is meant to address and correct the acute underrepresentation of women in the legislative arena. We do not have to wait for another census and delimitation to assess and address the problem.
The bill that deserved the most serious legislative treatment seems to have been drafted in haste and presented in a manner that only trivialises the functioning of parliamentary democracy. The idea of deferred implementation of such an urgent legislation only reminds us of Gandhi's famous remark on the Cripps Mission offer of Dominion Status: 'a post-dated cheque drawn on a falling bank'. A bill that the women's movement has been fighting for decades with sustained support from a broad spectrum of progressive political forces cannot be reduced to yet another electoral gimmick.
- Dipankar Bhattacharya,
General Secretary, CPIML Liberation